Mr. COX of California. Mr. Speaker, at a recent executive session of the House Republican Policy Committee, which I chair, the Salvatori Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Heritage Foundation, Dr. Ariel Cohen, made a presentation on the state of affairs in Russia and implications for American foreign policy. He offered an analysis of the December 1995 legislative elections and the presidential elections scheduled for next June, focusing on the growing influence of Communists and ultranationalists. His observations about Russia's stalled economic liberalization, military onslaught against the citizens of Chechnya, and sale of nuclear reactors to Iran force one to reconsider American economic assistance programs for Russia. His briefing report follows.
Briefing to the House Republican Policy Committee, Hon. Christopher Cox, (R-CA), Chairman
The Future of U.S.-Russian Relations Remains Uncertain. The future of U.S.-Russian relations is uncertain. Much depends upon the outcome of the presidential elections in Russia, currently scheduled for the summer of 1996. In December 1995, elections communists, nationalists and their allies captured over 50 per cent of the popular vote to the Duma (the lower house of the Russian parliament). Currently, President Yeltsin is trailing the pack of presidential candidates, with his popular support in single digits. The most popular candidate is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, an anti-American ultra-nationalist. Another dangerous contender is Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the unreformed communist party. He, too, could win the presidency of the second largest nuclear power on earth. Victory for either Zhirinovsky or Zyuganov would gravely endanger Russia's young democracy and market reforms. A communist or a nationalist at Russia's helm could eventually place that country, with its considerable military power, on a collision course with the United States in Central Europe or the Middle East.
Yeltsin's Presidency Faltering. President Yeltsin's own prospects look grim. He has all but announced that he is about to run for the presidency, but his health is failing, and Russia's internal economic and political crisis continues unabated. The war in the breakaway republic of Chechnya, and economic difficulties are eroding the popularity of Yeltsin's administration.
No one knows who will rule in Moscow by the end of 1996, but the period of romantic partnership with the U.S. and the West is over. Russia is striking out on its own, taking a path that has already led toward confrontation with the West. In fact, Russia is in the midst of a political turbulence fraught with dangers for the West. The chances are good that the next American president will have to deal with a new set of players in Moscow, different from the current team. The U.S. cannot afford to appear partisan. Washington should be firm in expressing American support for democracy, elections, free markets and the support of individual rights in Russia. But the continuous and unquestionable support that the Clinton administration is providing Boris Yeltsin makes less and less sense. Questions about how closely and for how much longer Yeltsin should be embraced need to be addressed.
From Sphere of Influence to Empire? Anti-Western, anti-American, and xenophobic sentiments are growing in Russia. Moscow is attempting to re-establish its influence in neighboring regions that were once a part of the Soviet Union. The Kremlin is employing combination of economic, diplomatic and military means to achieve a sphere of economic and military influence in what Moscow calls its `near abroad.' Yeltsin's newly appointed foreign minister, Yevguenii Primakov, and other influential policy makers insist that the West scale down relations with former Soviet states, including Ukraine, and conduct these ties via Moscow. But in fact, preventing the emergence of a Russian empire in the lands of the former Soviet Union should be a top Western priority. Nothing less than Russian democracy and a future threat to vital Western interests are at stake. Moreover, an anti-Western policy may lead Russia to forge alliances with anti-Western forces in Iran, Iraq, China and Lybia.
The War in Chechnya. One of the main goals of the Russian attack on the quasi-independent republic of Chechnya in December of 1994 was to ensure control of a vital oil pipeline and stem illegal activities, such as drug-trafficking and smuggling, that were being conducted or condoned by the former administration in the Chechen capital of Grozny led by President Jokhar Dudayev. Russia launched massive but covert military actions to support Dudayev's opponents. In 1994, Dudayev turned to radical Islamic elements in the Middle East and Central Asia for support. This exacerbated the religious aspect of the conflict between the Muslim Chechens and Christian Orthodox Russians. Overt Russian military action began on December 12, 1994, when the army marched on Grozny. The city was destroyed by a brutal aerial, tank and artillery assault. Since the start of the campaign, over 30,000 people have been killed, and more than 300,000 became refugees. Hostilities continue, with hostage taking crises having erupted in July of 1995 and January of 1996. The southern border region of the Russian Federation increasingly resembles Lebanon or Yugoslavia, replete with hostages, refugees and vendettas.
The sale of nuclear reactors to Iran. The Islamic regime in Teheran has launched a bid to acquire nuclear weapons. It is buying two Russian-made nuclear reactors that will produce radioactive plutonium which can be enriched to become weapons-grade raw material for the manufacture of atomic bombs. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself does not support this sale, which could endanger both Russian and Western security. Iran, with its formidable oil and gas resources, does not need nuclear power. If Teheran wants an additional source of electricity, Russia could sell electrical power from its own ample resources. In addition, to compensate Russia for the lost reactor sales, the U.S. could increase its Russian uranium quota, or cooperate in building safer nuclear reactors on Russian soil.
Aid to Russia. The Bush and the Clinton administrations have provided over $4 billion dollars in aid to Russia since 1992. Over $20 billion has been provided by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Western governments and multilateral organizations, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Combined aid monies and loans to the USSR and Russia for the period 1985-1995 amounted to over $100 billion. The results of these aid programs
have been mixed. The primary agency which implements aid is the U.S. Agency for International Development (US AID), which often disregards Russia's real needs and pushes its own `development' agenda, utilizing personnel with expertise gained in Third World countries. The AID approach is hardly appropriate for Russia.
Technical assistance in the transition to free markets and democracy is vital. It should be administered by an independent board of U.S. policy makers, Russian area experts, and U.S. business representatives, and with guidance from the U.S. Department of State. The Russians need training in Western-style finance, accounting, management, law, and many other issues. They also need support in the development of the democratic institutions of an emerging civil society, as well as student and scientist exchanges.
Four treaties were signed by the USSR and the Russian Federation that require improvement, revision, rethinking. These are:
Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II). This treaty, limiting the number of strategic nuclear weapons on both sides, was signed between President George Bush and the last leader of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1990, and has not yet been ratified by the U.S. Senate or the Russian Duma. In the U.S., START II is facing a challenge in the Senate. The senators understand that START II makes sense in Washington only if the treaty is compatible with a sound and rational policy that includes missile defense. But the main obstacles to START II ratification are not in Washington.
They are in Moscow, where a majority of deputies in the newly elected Duma will probably refuse to ratify. While raising objections based on American intentions to build a missile defense, the real reason for the Russian intransigence lies elsewhere. The Russian military establishment wants to keep large, land-based multiple warhead missiles, such as the SS-18, SS-19 and especially the mobile SS-24. The reason for that is twofold. First and foremost, the Russian elite mistakenly thinks that these are the attributes of a superpower, and that with these tools of destruction Russia will retain the place of its predecessor, the USSR. Secondly, the Ministry of Defense wants to retain the level of investments that were made during the Soviet era. Such old thinking indicates that the lessons of the past have not been learned. Russia cannot become a superpower through such a muscle-bound strategy. Only a democratic Russia with freedom, prosperity and opportunity for all can build wealth and strength commensurate with superpower status.
Ballistic Missile Defense/Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. In an era of nuclear proliferation, the American mainland needs to be defended from accidental or terrorist missile launches. This is especially pertinent with Russia selling nuclear reactors and China selling ballistic missiles and technology to the extremist regime in Teheran. The efforts of Saddam Houssein to develop a nuclear ballistic missile capability are also well documented.
Ballistic Missile Defense is a limited and achievable goal for the U.S. It should not be thwarted by the obsolete 1972 ABM Treaty signed with the USSR, a country that no longer exists. Russia today claims to be heir to the now-defunct Soviet Union, and is demanding that the U.S. abide by the 1972 treaty.
Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Robert Smith (R-NH) have informed Majority Leader Robert Dole that they will `object to any unanimous consent agreement that would call up START II for final Senate action' if either the treaty or the Clinton administration prevent the U.S. from deploying a ballistic missile defense system.
Despite what critics in Moscow and Washington say, a BMD will not cause a new upward spiraling arms race. The deployment of a defense system will lessen reliance on offensive missiles and will allow the U.S. to achieve lower levels of strategic arms as delineated in START I and II. The limited National Missile Defense will not be aimed against Russia. It is a purely defensive system, and, as President Reagan envisaged, America can cooperate with Russia and its Western allies on developing and deploying such a system.
Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Russia joined the CWC and expects the U.S. to do the same. America should support the creation of an arms control regime in the area of chemical weapons. However, such a regime needs to be enforceable and verifiable. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the current CWC, and therefore, the Congress should oppose it and refuse to ratify. The CWC is not verifiable because of the nature of chemical weapons. The ease of secret production, low tech equipment--all make verification extremely difficult. Secondly, the convention is unenforceable, as it places this authority in the hands of the U.N. Security Council, which would be hampered from doing an effective job as all of its permanent members have veto power. It is easy to foresee this body becoming deadlocked precisely when incidents of serious violation arise. Instead, the U.S. should propose a different regime, similar to the NPT, which will divide countries (including the permanent members of the Security Council) into weapon states and non-weapon states. Such a regime would circumvent the issue to veto power in the Security Council.
Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE). This treaty places limits on the numbers of conventional weapons, such as tanks and cannons, permitted in the European theaters of operation. It was signed with the now-defunct USSR in 1990, after more than two decades of negotiations.
In the fall of 1995, the U.S. agreed to Russia's unilateral revision upwards of the limits imposed by the CFE on the northern and southern flanks of Russia. However, the threat to Russia used to justify these revisions is far from obvious. Beefing up the numbers of tanks and cannons on the borders of Russia's neighbors, be it the Baltics or in the Caucasus, raises questions about Moscow's intentions. This is especially relevant with all the rhetoric currently circulating in Moscow about reconstituting the Soviet Union and denunciations of the accords which led to the dissolution of the USSR. Moreover, Russia is far behind on meeting the weapons system destruction targets stipulated by the CFE.
Peacekeeping in Bosnia. Many conservatives have misgivings about sending American troops to enforce peace in Bosnia. But if the U.S. has to do it, it is better to keep Russia in than out. The Russian military will gain experience interacting with NATO in Bosnia. This is a positive development. Peace in the region is in the interests of both the U.S. and Russia. However, this peacekeeping mission has to have clearly defined goals and objectives. It must neither exacerbate differences on the ground between NATO and Russian commanders nor magnify them into a political confrontation. It is important to guarantee that the command and control system in Bosnia ensure a close interaction between NATO and Russia. Such a structure should be able to withstand the stresses and strains of a `worst case scenario,' and keep tactical disagreements in check.
The Partnership for Peace (PFP). This is a gateway for NATO-Russian cooperation. Through the PFP, Russia and NATO can learn to work together, and learn about each other. It goes without saying that after the end of the Cold War the security architecture in Europe is going to be redesigned, and that a democratic and peaceful Russia should have a place of honor at the European table. NATO will feel more comfortable with a Russia that is not entangled in a bloody war in Chechnya, with a more democratic military without the hazing of recruits, and with a strong professional component.
U.S.-Russian Security Cooperation and NATO Enlargement. The issue of NATO enlargement to include Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic has become a bone of contention in U.S.-Russian relations. NATO expansion does not threaten Russia and is not a move toward encirclement. It is not a new cordon sanitaire. Simply stated, Central and Eastern Europe is that area of the European continent where bitter confrontations between the Slavs and the Germans have taken place over the last several hundred years. Two world wars have started there. If NATO is not expanded, Russia and Germany will find themselves locked in a new race aimed at dominating this key area. In this century the West abandoned the Poles, the Czechs and the Hungarians, first, to Hitler's aggression, and next, to Stalin's tyranny. This should not and must not happen again. These sovereign countries have the right to apply for membership in NATO, and NATO members should decide when and how new members will be accepted. Moscow cannot have veto power over this decision. The Republican Party has decided to include NATO expansion in its Contract with America, which was enthusiastically endorsed by the American people in the elections of 1994. There will be support in the U.S. Congress for NATO enlargement. And in the future, when the time is right, Russia, too, can explore the possibility of full membership in NATO.
The alleged promise that the Clinton administration gave to Russia not to expand NATO in order to secure Russian military cooperation in Bosnia is a mistake. If a hardliner comes to power in Russia or the Bosnian operation concludes, the U.S. should work to accept the three Central European states into NATO and keep the doors open for others if and when they are ready.
Crime and Corruption. Russia and other New Independent States (NIS) have become leading `exporters of crime,' together with Columbia, Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, and others. Law and order in Russia has collapsed; organized crime is merging with `legal' government structures, and it is difficult to say where the mafiosi end and the government begins.
The main export items are weapons, drugs, and illegally obtained raw materials, such as oil, gasoline, timber and lumber, and precious metals. Today, organized crime syndicates are taking over whole manufacturing companies with tens of millions of dollars in sales. The total criminal exports from the NIS is in the billions of dollars.
Many Russian and Eurasian criminal organizations operate internationally, including in the United States and Western Europe. Russian organized criminals and corrupt officials have access to weapons and technology of mass destruction, including uranium, chemical and biological weapons and the raw materials and components for their manufacture, as well as scientists with specific weapons-related expertise.
On August 17, 1991, hardline elements of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Russian army, and the KGB attempted a coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. The coup was repelled by the Russian people under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation, who had been elected only two months earlier. The coup leaders were put on trial and jailed--but were released in 1993. Yeltsin emerged as the strongest political leader in the USSR.
The Soviet Union dissolved on December 25, 1991. Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other Newly Independent States (NIS) appeared on the map instead of the USSR.
On September 21, 1993, Boris Yeltsin disbanded the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation (the Soviet-era parliament). The recalcitrant Supreme Soviet became the site of intense opposition to Yeltsin and his market reforms. After a week-long standoff, Yeltsin ordered the Russian army to shoot at the parliament building (the `White House'). At least 130 people were killed. The new parliament (the Duma) was elected on December 12, 1993.
Today, Boris Yeltsin's health is failing. He has had two heart attacks in four months. His behavior is sometimes erratic; and intelligence services report that he has a heavy drinking problem.
Presidential elections are scheduled for June, 1996, but it is not certain whether they will take place. Hard-line nationalist and communist forces are on the rise, and the democratic reformers are retreating. The main contenders include President Boris Yeltsin; ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky; economist Grigory Yavlinsky (a moderate reformer); retired General Alexander Lebed (an authoritarian and charismatic nationalist); and Gennady Ziuganov (leader of the communist party).
During the Bush and Clinton administrations, Russia received over $4 billion in direct US aid, over $20 billion total in Western aid, and over $50 billion in loans from the G-7 countries and multilateral financial organizations, such as the IMF, the World Bank and EBRD. Together with the Soviet debt, Russia owes just under $130 billion.
In 1994, Russia started a war in the break-away republic of Chechnya, that has to date killed over 30,000 people, made over 300,000 others refugees, and cost over $6 billion.
In the spring of 1995, Russia joined the Partnership for Peace (PFP), a `halfway house for some to join NATO.' However, today there is little likelihood that Russia will join in any time soon. Russia's reaction to NATO expansion East has been shrill and hostile. Most Russian politicians are erroneously claiming that NATO has aggressive designs against Russia and are using the NATO expansion issue to build up nationalism and anti-Western sentiments at home.
Russia agreed to cooperate with NATO in a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, allegedly in exchange for a Clinton administration promise not to expand NATO, acquiescence to an increase in the number of conventional weapons in place on Russia's northern and southern flanks in violation of the CFE treaty, and freedom of action in the former Soviet area. Russia has over 2,000 peacekeepers in Bosnia.
Russia's unilateral violation of the CFE treaty, signed in 1990, threatens other former Soviet states, such as Ukraine, the Baltic countries, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. The build-up also jeopardizes the oil resources of the Caspian Sea.
Russia has signed agreements to supply at least two nuclear power reactors to the militant Islamic regime in Iran, which is implementing a nuclear weapons program.
Trafficking in radioactive materials and chemical weapons by corrupt Russian officials is well documented. Germany alone has made over 100 arrests related to nuclear material components exported from the NIS. General Anatoly Kuntsevich, head of the Russian Presidency's Chemical Weapons Department, illegally sold over 1600 pounds of chemical weapons components to a Middle Eastern country. Kuntsevich was subsequently fired and is currently under investigation.
One of the top Russian mafiosi, nicknamed `Yaponets,' is in U.S. custody on racketeering charges.
Russian organized crime in the U.S. netted over $1,000,000 in medical insurance fraud and hundreds of millions in gasoline tax fraud from 1992-1995. A large portion of these illegal proceeds is invested in Western and off-shore banks and real estate in California, Florida, and other locations.
The Russian mob is successfully building ties to the Chinese `triad' gangs, Japan's Yakuza, the Sicilian La Cosa Nostra and Central Asian mafias. The strategic airlift capabilities of the former Soviet army are often used for illicit transactions, such as drug smuggling and stolen car transportation.
President Clinton has made relations with Boris Yeltsin too personal. As Yeltsin's popularity plummeted, Clinton fed the flames of Russian resentment toward the U.S. with his unequivocal support of the Russian president, especially after the dramatic shooting at the Parliament building in October of 1993 and the beginning of the Chechen war. As a result, the U.S. is now perceived by many in the Russian political elite as partisan and uncritically supportive of Yeltsin's faltering policies, such as the Chechen war. The Clinton policy has endangered the ability of the U.S. to maintain relationship with segments of the Russian society that oppose President Yeltsin.
The Clinton administration has also been too slow to recognize the importance of countries other than Russia. For example, without Ukraine, the Russian empire cannot be recreated and will have only limited access to the heart of Europe. Azerbaijan controls vital oil and gas reserves, while Georgia is situated in a strategically crucial location in the Caucasus. Nevertheless, the Clinton administration has often neglected these countries, promoting a `Russia-first' policy.
The Clinton administration failed to prevent the sale of nuclear reactors to Iran, despite America's share in the massive financial aid provided to Moscow by the International Monetary Fund, The World Bank, and other multilateral financial institutions. The reactors are a vital component in the Iranian bid to acquire `Islamic' nuclear weapons.
U.S. assistance to the reform efforts in Russia and other former Soviet states has been poorly executed. Much of the $4.1 billion dollars in U.S. assistance allocated to date has been wasted. The Bush and Clinton administrations made an error in choosing the U.S. Agency for International Development as the main implementing agency for assistance. AID has its expertise in the developing world, not in post-communist transitional economies.
The organized crime from the former Soviet Union is becoming a global threat. In FY 1995, Congress funded and the FBI established a law enforcement academy in Budapest, Hungary where law enforcement officials from the region will train. There is now a small FBI liaison office in Moscow. The FBI is allocating more resources towards countering the Russian mafia than previously.
To promote democracy and the interests of the United States in Russia, The U.S. should:
Develop a Russian policy based on the support of ideas and interests, not on the fate of individual politicians. The U.S. should support democracy and free markets, as well as political forces advocating these ideas, not controversial individual politicians such as Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin is the elected president of Russia and was a key figure in bringing about the collapse of the Soviet communism. However, today some of his policies and his personal style are controversial, and his popularity is plummeting. Moreover, there are other reform-oriented politicians in Russia with whom a dialogue should be maintained.
Advocate broad-based cooperation with Russia and other NIS members to ensure their integration into global markets and the democratic community of nations. The U.S. should continue selective and targeted technical assistance programs and provide support to prodemocracy forces and nascent market institutions in the NIS. The U.S. must design and implement trade, investment and assistance programs for Russia and the NIS that reduce inflation, lower market barriers and stimulate growth. Congress should support these programs. Thriving Russian and Eurasian markets would create jobs and export opportunities for American businesses. U.S. assistance programs should be taken away from AID and given to an independent board of policy makers, area specialists and business representatives. Such a board can be jointly appointed by the president and Congress.
Condemn Russia's interference in the affairs of its neighbors. The survival, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all NIS countries are important to future peace and prosperity in Eurasia. The U.S. should support the independence of Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Central Asian states, many of which are being drawn into the Russian orbit against their will. Washington should intensify its ties with Ukraine, the Baltic states, and countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The West should provide them with support in developing foreign and domestic policy decision making bodies and mechanisms, training their bureaucracies, and increasing security cooperation. Technical assistance in privatization of industry and agriculture should also be provided.
Make clear to Moscow that the use of brutal force against states or areas of the former Soviet Union, based on the model of Chechnya, is unacceptable and will trigger Western retaliation against Russian economic and political interests. While the U.S. should support the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, the West should oppose the brutal methods of the Russian military in handling internal dissent, such as in Chechnya. The Clinton administration should cease issuing declarations of support for Russia's actions in Chechnya and boost OSCE efforts to resolve the Chechen crisis peacefully. A high profile OSCE mission to Chechnya and Russia, followed by a mediation effort, is in order.
Maintain Dialogue with Moscow over NATO Expansion. The U.S. should maintain a constant dialog with Russia on this topic, pointing out possibilities for Russian-NATO cooperation and stressing that NATO is not a threat to Russian security. While NATO enlargement will occur, Russian participation in the Partnership for Peace and the dialogue with Brussels should be expanded simultaneously. A secure Western border is in the interests of Russia, Belorus and other Eastern European countries.
Oppose Russian moves, such as sale of nuclear reactors to Iran, that threaten international security and the interests of U.S. allies in Eurasia. The U.S. should take all the steps at its disposal to prevent Iran, Iraq and other rogue states from gaining nuclear and chemical weapons capabilities. For example, voluntary export controls, similar to the COCOM regime during the Cold War, on technology sales to these countries should be put in place. Pressure should be applied against the governments arming rogue states, up to and including the imposition of selective economic sanctions. At the same time, other options, such as an increase in Russian uranium sales and civilian space launches, should be explored with Moscow, that may bring about a voluntary cancellation of the reactor deal. The U.S. should also cooperate with pro-Western circles in Turkey and Azerbaijan to promote democracy and oppose radical Islam in Eurasia.
Assist Russia and other NIS countries in fighting against organized crime and corruption. This can include help with writing comprehensive criminal and criminal procedure codes. Some of the old Soviet legislation lacks important legal concepts, such as conspiracy to commit a crime.
In addition, U.S. law enforcement agencies should cooperate, to the degree possible, with trustworthy and reliable law enforcement personnel in the East. In particular, they can assist in developing a witness relocation program. They should strive to track and penetrate Russian and NIS criminal rings dealing in weapons of mass destruction and narcotics. American law enforcement agencies should monitor East-West financial transactions more closely. Deposits that originate in the NIS should be carefully screened and the legitimacy of earnings established.
Why should we provide aid to Russia?
The window of opportunity for the West in Russia may be closing. While there is still time, we should provide aid that strengthens free markets and free minds. Communism destroyed both of these for seventy years. Many Russians still want to learn about democracy and capitalism, and we should provide them with a fighting chance before it is too late.
What if hard-liners take Yeltsin's place?
We should act now to strengthen relations with all countries in the region, which will be under even more threat than the West if hardliners come to power in Moscow. We should expand NATO to include Poland, the Czech republic and Hungary, and prevent any U.S. or international assistance to an aggressive, anti-American or anti-Western government in Moscow, should one emerge. We should still maintain a dialogue with Moscow, explaining what we will see as unacceptable policies and clarifying what price Russia may pay if `red lines' are crossed. Eventually, if the need arises, we may need to plan for military contingencies.
Doesn't NATO expansion endanger Russia?
No, it does not. NATO enlargement is aimed at creating a zone of stability and security in Eastern and Central Europe, and to hasten the integration of the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary into the West. NATO expansion is also aimed at preventing competition between Germany and Russia in the area which triggered the two world wars. NATO is a defensive alliance, and its posture in Central Europe should remain defensive.
Why shouldn't we be more cooperative with Russia? After all, the cold war is over; Russia is a democracy and a great power, too. Why shouldn't we allow Moscow a greater role in policing unstable regions, such as the Caucasus or Central Asia?
We can cooperate with those in Russia who are interested in building a market economy and democratic polity. Democracy is still struggling for survival in Russia. More time needs to pass before we are sure that it is there to stay. As for Russia's role in the region, it will always be considerable due to Russia's sheer size and economic, political and cultural weight. However, there are forces in Russia that dream of re-establishing the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire. These circles are anti-Western and anti-American. They cannot be ignored. We should oppose Russia's heavy-handed interference into the affairs of its neighbors and attempts to violate their sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In view of Chechnya, what should the U.S. do to prevent Russia from invading its neighbors?
We should boost our relations with Ukraine, the Baltic States, and countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia. There are as many people there as there are in Russia. We should draw `lines in the sand' and stick to them. For example, we should tell Moscow that we will block all IMF and World Bank assistance if an NIS country is invaded. We should clarify to Russia that the U.S. will lead the international diplomatic campaign to restore the independence of a violated country. If Russia crosses these lines, we should consider imposing restrictions on exchanges and economic and trade sanctions against Russia. We should also demand from Moscow that the war in Chechnya stop.
What about organized crime in Russia?
There is wide-spread crime and corruption in Russia. Crime undermines reforms. People mistakenly think that the cause of crime is free market capitalism, but this is, of course, not true. Crime is rampant because there is no rule of law in Russia. Moreover, real democracy barely exists there, and the country still has a long way to go before a free market system is fully established.
Is Russian organized crime a threat to U.S. and Western security?
Yes, it is, because Russian criminals are very sophisticated, well-educated, and well-connected world-wide. They often boast advanced college degrees, KGB and special forces training. There is great potential danger in the merger of former communist, KGB and criminal elements in that part of the world. In particular, access of organized criminals to weapons of mass destruction and technology to produce those makes this threat particularly acute.
How can we stop the Russian `mafia?'
The Russian government will have to deal with its own criminal organizations one day, but many in the current Russian government, including law enforcement officials, are themselves corrupt. Until such time as NIS governments are able to effectively combat criminal organizations, the West has to apprehend and prosecute criminals from Russia and the NIS affecting its interests.
Are all people from the former Soviet Union criminals?
No, because many of them travel for legitimate business, education and tourism purposes.